10 Top Tips for Improving Mental Fitness
1. Get to know your personal stress response. What causes you stress? The next time you feel stressed, notice where in your body you feel sensations, your feelings such as anger or defeat, and any thinking patterns like excessive worrying or perfectionism. This begins the move from ignoring or resisting stress to embracing its effects as useful information.
2. Allow yourself time to relax and reflect. Take care of yourself and you’ll be better able to look after others as well. Read for pleasure, spend time in nature, try a breathing exercise, do a jigsaw or explore a new creative activity.
3. Practice mindfulness every day. See www.franticworld.com for formal meditations and recommended books / apps. Also practice informally in daily life by doing one thing at a time and being present while you are doing it (for example exercising, brushing your teeth or washing up).
4. Social support creates resilience. Oxytocin is released as part of the stress response that motivates us to seek human connection, which in turn strengthens our physical bodies. Spend meaningful time with others and ask for help when you need it.
5. Explore self-compassion practices. Sometimes we can be highly self-critical. These practices entail bringing a kind and caring attitude to ourselves, in the same way that we might treat a best friend who is struggling. They act as an antidote to low mood and anxiety. See https://self-compassion.org/
6. Develop your levels of appreciation and gratitude. Train your brain to focus more on the positive aspects of your day. Write down 3 things you are grateful for each night to break negative thinking habits such as unproductive worrying before sleep.
7. Consider nutrition. Eat for optimum brain health, investigate supplements such as Omega 3 oil, Magnesium, Vitamin B and Probiotics for gut health. Drinking plenty of water is the number one thing to do for clearer thinking. Avoid caffeine if you suffer from anxiety as it is a stimulant.
8. Exercise at least three times a week. Regular cardio exercise has been shown to be as effective a treatment for mild to moderate depression as anti-depressants.
9. Get enough sleep. On average it takes around 7-8 hours of sleep to completely clear the body of the stress hormone cortisol each night. Create a healthy sleep routine, going to bed at a consistent time each night and avoiding stimulating activities or looking at screens last thing.
10. Focus on something bigger. Having a purpose in life such as caring for others, personal goals, a faith or charitable cause helps see challenges in a wider perspective.
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